In the end it seems as if the strong, old man of the Hesse CDU decided everything himself: the time, the successor and also the procedure.

Actually, he had no choice, according to his party.

At best, he was able to define the point in time.

"He couldn't decide anymore."

Julian Staib

Political correspondent for Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland based in Wiesbaden.

  • Follow I follow

Bouffier is said to have gathered a small group of CDU members on Tuesday in the Prime Minister's stately official villa, up in the hills above Wiesbaden, including those who would like to succeed him.

They agreed.

"Without war, without victims," ​​says the party.

Those who probably wouldn't have had a chance anyway should have given up.

And only one is running: Boris Rhein, previously President of the State Parliament.

Bouffier wants to give him power in Hesse as early as May.

Then Rhein should be elected Prime Minister, and he should also take over the party chairmanship.

This is what is said unanimously from circles of the Hessian CDU.

Supporting Braun is considered a mistake

According to reports, Bouffier will present a timetable for the handover of power to his party friends from the federal and state governments at a meeting of the Hesse CDU near Fulda this Friday.

According to the party, it was probably a long-planned path.

Actually, everything was open until the very end.

For a long time, former finance minister Thomas Schäfer (CDU) was considered the crown prince in Hesse.

After his death in 2020, however, the field became confusing.

The name of the interior minister and former CDU general secretary Peter Beuth, who is very well connected in the party, was also mentioned until the very end.

Finance Minister Michael Boddenberg was also considered a candidate;

Finally, Minister of Education Alexander Lorz threw his hat into the ring.

According to reports, Bouffier would have liked to see Ines Claus, who he promoted as group leader, as his successor.

But she lacks the support, also from the parliamentary group.

Claus therefore renounced.

"She was already out of the race anyway," it says.

Bouffier is 70 years old, and the next state election is due in autumn 2023.

It is said in his party that he actually wanted to bring the legislative period to an end.

At least.

Some in his party described him as “raptured”.

Unusually loud for Hessian conditions, the head of government recently had to listen to questions about a transfer of power.

The poor performance of the CDU in the general election was blamed internally on Bouffier, who is loyal to Merkel.

He first supported Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, then Armin Laschet and finally the former head of the Chancellery Helge Braun in the fight for the party chairmanship – in the end it was all in vain.

Above all, Braun's support is seen in his party as an expression of how far removed Bouffier is from the grassroots.

Because Braun, whom Bouffier allegedly would have liked to see at the head of the State Chancellery, never had a chance.

According to the parliamentary group, his candidacy was a “big mistake”.

You have "massively reduced" Bouffier's design options.

Rhein used his role as President of the Landtag

Rhein is anything but Bouffier's preferred candidate.

The relationship between the two is considered clouded.

The reason is unclear, it is probably - so it is suspected - related to the transfer of the office of interior minister, which Rhein once took over from Bouffier.

Rhein later became science minister before Bouffier sorted him out of the cabinet after the Greens emerged stronger from the 2018 state election and demanded more cabinet posts.

At that time, Bouffier made Rhein President of the Landtag.

Actually, that counts as a siding.

But Rhein used the role.

He brought a fresh, accessible, sometimes almost jovial tone to the plenum.

At the same time, he showed himself to be someone with a distance to state politics.

He repeatedly expressed his condolences to the relatives of the Hanau victims and called for clarification (which was directed not least at Interior Minister Beuth).

Rhein, unlike Beuth, can also be easily placed as prime minister by the Greens, and that's what counts: Black-Green only has a majority of one vote in the state parliament.

Rhein thus managed to be perceived as a liberal representative of his party.

Actually, however, he is politically close to Beuth.

In the Frankfurt CDU, he is assigned to the conservative camp.

It is expected that he will also be able to serve the conservative camp in the Hessen-CDU, which is quite large and in which a lot of resentment has built up under Bouffier.

There it is said that Rhein is someone who is able to keep the “fire wall” not only against the right, but also against the left – unlike Bouffier recently, whose Secretary General Manfred Pentz, for example, urged the Hessian parliamentary group leader of the Left, Janine Wissler, almost enthusiastically to change the federal leadership congratulated her party - which would have been unthinkable in the past and caused a lot of resentment.

With Rhein, who, like Beuth, was socialized in the Junge Union, there will no longer be such a thing, the conservative part of the Hesse CDU is now saying hopefully.